Friday, 12 August 2016

Basement Renovation - Part Nine - Fireplace - To Gas or Plug In? That is the question.

It has been a loooong time since I updated you all on our basement renovations.  That's mainly because life got in the way and we've been enjoying this sunny summer using our basement for watching Toronto Blue Jays games and movies with our awesome surround sound! 

Today I'm talking about fireplaces.  They add a focal point and give heat and style to a room. One of the things Brad and I are both in agreement on for the basement is the need for it to feel cozy.  A place we want to spend a lot of time with family and friends.  One of the ways to help with that cozy feel is to have a fireplace.  We have a gas fireplace in our main floor family room but since it has a vaulted ceiling and is open to the bedroom level all of the heat whips upstairs so we don't get that cozy feel.

In the basement we knew that we wanted a big entertainment unit and that it would, most likely, have to be custom made based on our needs and the sheer size of it.  We opted to put it against one entire wall with a gas fireplace, our 60-inch TV mounted above it and bookshelves/lower cabinets on either side of that.  We had a plan so we were half way there. (you can see my post about these custom cabinets HERE)

Then fate stepped in and derailed some things.

We wanted a gas fireplace (which, as luck would have it, would be directly below the gas fireplace we have in the family room upstairs).  Perfect, right?  Just tie into the exhaust from the upstairs gas fireplace and voila!  New fireplace.  Um, no said the Fireplace Guy.  Apparently it's not legal in Canada to tie into another fireplace's exhaust.  Didn't know that.  *sigh*

If we wanted a gas fireplace in the basement we still had a few options:

A) install an exhaust for the new fireplace by drilling up through our exposed aggregate concrete patio in our backyard.  Um, no.

B) Drill up through our hardwood in our family room upstairs, beside its fireplace, add a cabinet on either side of that fireplace to hide the fact that we have a hole in our floor (and to balance it on both sides) and go out through the wall for the exhaust.  Um, hell no.

C) Put a huge bulkhead through the basement bathroom so that they could vent the fireplace on that side of the house but we'd have to destroy my vegetable garden in the process (and our bathroom would be one big bulkhead). *banging head against wall*

I do not like these choices.  Not ... at ... all.  Try again.

Those were the only options for us to have a fireplace in the basement. Or were they?

The other option, which I really hadn't loved, was an electric fireplace.  Perhaps I was a little snobby when it came to electric fireplaces and saw them as not as good as gas.  I wanted gas.  But Fireplace Guy said that electric fireplaces have come a long way in style and have some good options.  When I thought of all of the cost and destruction it would take to put in an already very costly gas fireplace I was willing to listen to the Fireplace Guy as he gave me the benefits of an electric fireplace. 

Hallelujah, I have seen the light about the benefits electric fireplaces. 

A) they're waaaay cheaper.  I'm talking less than a 1/3 of the price of gas fireplaces
B) they don't take a lot of power to run them
C) they can easily be removed/moved
D) there are many different style options for fire/stones etc
E) the can have multiple settings. Ours has three settings -- just light, low heat or high heat and let me tell you, on high it can pump out quite a bit of heat.  Even though it's a big space the basement will heat up with this little baby so it's nice to be able to shut off the heat option and just have the flames.  I honestly think we'd bake if we had a gas fireplace down there.

We had to change things around a bit to incorporate an electric fireplace because we were not only going to have a big TV to power but now we had an electric fireplace too. That's a lot of pull on one wee receptacle so we added another receptacle so we could successfully power our big TV and the fireplace at the same time.  It was a relatively easy fix and put our minds at ease.

In the end we went with a five foot long fireplace.  Brad built a box frame for the fireplace and to hold the custom mantle.  He also added the cement boards to hold the stone veneer that we plan to add to the front of the fireplace in the (God willing) near future.

Fireplace is in ... just needs the mantle back in place
Looks great and will look amazing with some stone veneer!
Hint, hint Brad!

The fireplace came with little glass chips to sprinkle along the bottom.  I immediately wasn't a fan and promptly opted to use small rocks that we had picked up on our trips to the beach or hiking. That gives it a personal feel, they look great and add to that rustic feel we're going for.

The final touch will be to add a stone veneer on the front and will wrap ever so slightly around the sides.  I'm thinking it will be something along the lines of these two.  

Initial thoughts for the stone veneer.

I'd prefer to go with larger stones but we're talking about a very small, narrow area so that's not going to work.  I'll post pictures of the veneer once it's up. Perhaps I can convince Brad to get his tool belt out this Fall.

We've now been using this fireplace for several months and simply love it. It gives the room a warm and cozy feel that we were going for and once we get the stone veneer on it will look stellar and add so much to the room.  In the end I guess I owe fate a high five because we saved money and are more than happy with our decision to get an electric fireplace.

Note: For more blog posts about our basement transformation please click on the Our Home Renovations tab along the top of the blog, just under the Baking Bookworm heading.


Janine K said...

Very nice Laurie. It's interesting that you say electric fireplace is cheaper than gas in Canada. I have a gas fireplace in my lounge room and we have gas ducted heating all through the house. Any form of electric heating is horrendously expensive in Australia, hence that's why homes have gas heating. It's looking good! Go Red Sox ��⚾️

Laurie@The Baking Bookworm said...

Hi Janine - Electric home heating is very expensive here (we have forced gas) but the amount of energy that an electric fireplace uses is quite small. I wouldn't use it to heat a home but for a room it does a really good job. And the fact that we saved thousands of dollars (not to mention all the expensive tweaks we'd have to do to make the gas situation happen) didn't hurt either. :)

P.S - Go Blue Jays!! :)

Fawad Umair said...
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